The launch of LumenLab – MetLife’s first and only global innovation centre established in Singapore – is a significant milestone for the insurer and city-state, said Ms Jacqueline Loh, Deputy Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore.
“LumenLab will shine the light forward on innovative and impactful solutions in health, wealth, and longevity that are developed in Asia, for Asia, and for the rest of the world,” she said at its official opening in July.
With the digital revolution underway, established insurers must adapt quickly to transform or miss opportunities that start-ups can quickly exploit. “Insurers must look inwards to transform themselves, to embrace innovation at all levels, and create an environment where staff are empowered to be like start-ups: nimble, flexible, and creative. This is necessary to allow incumbents to compete on an equal footing with new challengers who are not bogged down by pre-conceived notions,” she said.
Collaboration will be a crux
Other than looking inwards, insurers must also look outwards to seek collaboration. Collaboration will be the crux to unlock new and non-traditional sources of talent and partnership outside of the financial sector. Through collaboration, insurers can gain access to potentially disruptive ideas and new technologies, she said.
LumenLab CEO and Chief Innovation Officer of MetLife Asia, Mr Zia Zaman, also spoke about the importance of collaboration in innovation. To innovatively find solutions, one cannot do it alone. LumenLab is ready to collaborate across sectors – pharmaceutical companies, healthcare companies, technology companies, and even other insurance companies.
“We will collaborate with anyone and everyone who can help contribute to the goal,” he said. “LumenLab’s remit extends beyond the traditional life and health insurance industry. Our innovation strategy focuses on consumers as the source of insights and inspiration; it goes beyond just technology innovation.”
Choice of Singapore
On the choice of Singapore, Mr Christopher Townsend, President, Asia of MetLife, said it was selected ahead of other countries in the Asia region, even those where MetLife has a greater presence, because of Singapore’s flourishing business ecosystem, strong public-private partnership framework, progressive financial regulatory environment, and its ability to attract creative and innovative talent in the country.
The innovation centre will enable MetLife to anticipate the needs of Asian consumers, who are expected to account for about half of the insurance industry’s growth in the next decade. “As LumenLab spawns new and disruptive business models, we anticipate that it will be seen retrospectively as a visionary and shrewd investment,” said Mr Townsend.
LumenLab is the “first-of-its-kind disruptive innovation centre for MetLife, and the global life insurance industry as a whole”. Its 7,800 square feet facility houses a working space and business incubator staffed with dedicated innovation experts, many of whom have backgrounds in start-ups or come from outside the insurance industry.